In Portland, Oregon, roadways are designed with commuting cyclists in mind. Asphalt is painted with green ‘right-of-way’ indicators giving cyclists preference and the Portland Bureau of Transportation will install free bicycle racks at your place of business.
Come rain or shine, bi-wheeled commuters and joyriders fill the streets of every single neighborhood, riding their often expensive bicycles into the ground. As you can imagine, this rich opportunity for the aspiring entrepreneur has not gone unnoticed. Each neighborhood comes replete with multiple cycle shops that compete for the business of this active community.
It is into this bicycle-saturated metropolis that Velo Cult proprietor, Sky Boyer entered in 2012, establishing a unique corner of the market by combining a bike shop with an active venue space and bar.
Sky started racing in his local Velodrome as a kid and raced various styles of cycling almost full-time through his 20s.
When he wasn’t racing he was working in bike shops as a tech assistant and eventually graduated into management. He took the knowledge he gained – of what worked and what didn’t – and eventually founded his own bike shops in southern California, creating success in a niche focused on types of cycling that were overlooked by the mainstream.
The Velo Cult crew, including Boyer’s entire staff from San Diego, moved up to Portland in 2012, a move financed by the selling of his previous shop’s bike collection one by one, “My employees and I all felt more at home in Portland and really wanted to move,” says Boyer, “We didn’t have much of any capital, but we decided it was something we needed to do.”
About Velo Cult
The decisions Boyer has made about his shop – custom counters, a quality sound system and a 100” projection screen for movie screenings – show an intent to stay and create an invitation into a unified bike culture that sometimes gets stuck in cliques and rivalry. Another approach that has made them a quick Portland cornerstone is their attention to what local cyclists need – like quick tune-ups.
Velo Cult announced this year that they would do 24-hour turn-arounds for walk in tune-ups and basic repairs to serve the many people in Portland who rely on bicycles for their daily commute. The positive response to this no-fee rush service has created an extended and loyal customer base, who show up for a tune-up, stay for a beer or coffee, and come back again and again for bands and documentary screenings.
Aaron Gulley of Outdoor Magazine explains why this 10,000ft² space is making an impression, “No matter how advanced online retailers get, they’ll never be able to make the camaraderie of a brick and mortar bike shop,” Gulley explains, “Velo Cult stands out as a beacon of cycling culture. The shop is known just as much as a gathering place as for the product they sell.”